Posts Tagged ‘Food’


In View on January 27, 2011 at 7:21 am

Adam Avery runs his very own brewery in Boulder, Colorado.  He started brewing beer in college and has since grown his hobby into a 137,000-case-per-year operation.

As usual with these Popular Mechanics profiles, click through for an interactive graphic highlighting Avery’s gear:


Adam Avery with his brewing equipment.  Photo by Popular Mechanics.

Adam Avery with his brewing equipment. Photo by Popular Mechanics.

Number 3 in the graphic above is a hydrometer, which measures the amount of sugar dissolved in the unfermented malt.

I have a friend who attempted to brew cider one time without the help of a hydrometer.  He misread the recipe and put 16 times the amount of sugar into his mixture before bottling.

Too much sugar at that stage means too much bottle fermentation.  This doesn’t mean super-alcoholic cider (like you might think), but rather super-carbonated cider, which proved to be quite explosive.

Since the sugar he used was a type of corn syrup, the cider also tasted like tortilla chips instead of apples.

Inside Jelly Belly’s flavor creation

In Read on January 18, 2011 at 7:01 am

Here’s a story The Atlantic did last summer about how the flavor designers at Jelly Belly go about their work:

The development process begins with a very specific idea. The taste must be instantly recognizable, says Lisa Brasher, a fifth-generation member of the founding family and executive vice chairman of the board. “When you say ‘pickle,’ do you mean sweet or dill? When you say ‘potato chip,’ do you mean regular or barbecue? Those are very important questions for us.”


Photo by House of Sims.
Photo by House of Sims.

The article also has stories of when flavors go wrong, like raw garlic or barf (which apparently “sell like hotcakes”).


Molecular chef

In View on January 11, 2011 at 7:14 am

Alex Stupak is the chef at New York’s wd-50, and he uses unconventional tools and techniques to come up with new and interesting culinary creations:

Stupak starts with a traditional dish, then designs something new–such as balsamic vinegar encapsulated in vanilla ice-cream nuggets–using high-end food additives and unusual equipment. The flavor combinations and textures are intriguing, and the food tastes great–which is what Stupak and his customers really care about.

Alex Stupak, Molecular Chef

Alex Stupak, Molecular Chef

Click through for an interactive version of the graphic.

Paprika Mars

In Read, View on September 8, 2010 at 7:17 am

Matthew Albanese is an artist who uses household objects to create realistic photos of natural scenes.  Wired has eight of his scenes and includes behind-the-scenes looks at how he goes about creating them:

“I knocked over a tub of paprika and I was kind of interested in the texture and the color and the smell and everything,” said Albanese. “It just made sense for me to use that, to start there.”

Working in his self-built studio tucked into the back of his father’s New Jersey warehouse, Albanese employed his art-school education to shape a meticulously detailed relief of the Martian surface.

Scale models have been used in movies and television for decades, but not often ones constructed from found materials. Albanese’s results rival those of professional special effects studios, all performed without a team of artisans or expensive equipment.

Paprika Mars was created from paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and charcoal.  Photo by Matthew Albanese.

Paprika Mars was created from paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and charcoal. Photo by Matthew Albanese.

To me, Tornado is the most impressive.

Complexity of corn flavor

In Read on August 30, 2010 at 7:35 am

Roger Sherman is a corn lover who decries the apparent shift toward corn that is too sweet:

But last year, while I was happily munching my fifth ear, my wife pointed out that the corn is just sweet these days—the flavor has lost its complexity. I paused long enough to realize she was right. There’s no subtlety anymore, no notes of raspberries, cherries, or cinnamon. Actually, I’ve never tasted anything but corn in my corn. But there is something missing. It’s tasting less like corn and more like sugar.

I didn’t realize there were so many different corn varietals (Frisky, Mystique, Sugar Buns), but now I want to get my hands on something other than the Super Sweet I’m sure we’ve been buying from the grocery.

Also interesting in here is the notion of specific microclimates impacting the food production.  It’s always an eye-opener for me to be reminded that geography matters.

Photo by Roger Sherman.

Photo by Roger Sherman.

Mark Twain and food

In Read on August 11, 2010 at 7:23 am

Turns out Mark Twain was an early locavore:

In fact, Twain was so exact about wild foods because, during years of rambling travels, he’d tasted them all at their best—which meant eating them where they were from. He’d eaten prairie-chickens as a boy in Hannibal, Missouri, just across the river from the great tallgrass, and terrapin as a printer’s assistant in Philadelphia. He’d eaten sheepshead and croaker fish as a steamboat pilot in New Orleans, and Lahontan cutthroat trout in Tahoe when he fled west, away from the draft agents of the Union and Confederate armies. In a very real sense, his menu was a memoir of fondly remembered travels, from the prairies to the mountains and from the New Orleans docks to the backstreets of San Francisco.

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